Back in the saddle.

After copious amounts of celebrating and patting myself on the back I decided to call Grant for the instrument intro. He told me to bring something to puke into. I couldn’t tell if he was kidding. Turns out he was only kind of kidding.


We talked a little bit about what it’d be like and what the goal was. I have looked at plates before but this is a whole new world. We printed out some approach plates (are they called plates?) and he described the document. I caught / understood 10% of what he was saying. Damn. This will be difficult. We watched some youtubes, he drew some terrible sketches of teardrop patterns, and told me what books to by. We talked about using VORs and what kind of patterns we might be making, etc.. It was a ton of info and I need to do my best to study everyday. Lots to absorb on this one. WAY different than the PPL. Damn again.

After not understanding 90% of what he was saying we decided to go fly the helicopter.

We called our departure and took off to the north. I put on the bonnet of shame and he gave me fairly simple instructions. “Keep this line here and this mark there.” He also said if we keep X amount of power with the atmospheric conditions of the day we should end up here after X time. I was having trouble just maintaining level flight and doing standard turns. At one point I think I might have pointed the nose directly and the ground because I glanced at the rate of decent and, well, it wasn’t good.  Also why are we doing 100 knots all of a sudden.  Whoops. I tried to develop a pattern of looking over the instruments as he suggested but that was tough to say the least.  SO MUCH HAPPENING SO FAST.  I thought about the first person that decided flying in IFR conditions was a good idea and why you might ever consider that.  Sort of like the guy that decided to eat an oyster or a lobster the first time.

We successfully navigated to the VOR and decided to try to point the helicopter at the airport.  As luck would have it we found it and ran a lap, I was surprised when Grant told me to look up…  Holy dammit. We’re at an airport.  I wonder if it’s the right one.  I asked Grant and he confirmed we were most likely at the right one.

We decided to head home and mercifully he handled the radio.  He asked that I listen as they vectored* us in.  I caught most of it and stayed the course / altitude / airspeed.  We got 3 calls from the tower, I think… Again, massive amount of effort just to keep the helicopter, in trim, on target, at altitude and at the airspeed.  He told me to look up and, again, huge surprise we were at KCPS.  I have a new found respect for pilots that fly IFR without incident.

We landed and I felt like a complete newb again.  Also slightly nauseous.

Key learnings:

Grant likes to point at instruments.
Spacial distortion is very very very real. (my body was telling me I was turning left when in reality I was turning right and down)
This is going to be difficult.
The bonnet of shame makes you look stupid.


NEW WORD: “vectored”
Aircraft vectoring
is a navigation service provided to aircraft by air traffic control. The controller decides on a particular airfield traffic pattern for the aircraft to fly, composed of specific legs or vectors.

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